Domaine de Clovallon

I always enjoy seeing Alix Roque and it was time for an update on Domaine de Clovallon, as it had been a while.  This time she took us to enjoy the aerial view of her vineyards from the road into Bédarieux.  There is Riesling, Petite Arvine, Pinot Noir, in vineyards that benefit from the cooling winds that come off the nearby cliffs and the hill of the Caroux.   She has eight hectares altogether.


Alix is very concerned about biodiversity and she leaves the various grasses that grow naturally between the vines. Unlike some, she does not sow anything specific.  And we enjoyed the antics of a herd of sheep grazing amongst the vines.  This is their winter pasture.  


Next we had a quick look at the cellar, which was stuffed with pallets of wine as they had just completed a large bottling.  The cellar was built before the second world war and is partially underground, so Alix can work by gravity.  When it rains, the back walls become very damp   She always uses natural yeast, and all her wines undergo a malo-lactic fermentation.  


Then we went to see her walled vineyard above Bédarieux of old vines, of all three colours, and numerous grape varieties, from which she produces Les Indigènes.  There were wild leeks, and the wild asparagus was just beginning to appear as were the tiny grape hyacinths.  


And finally we went back to her mother’s tasting room at Mas d’Alezon for some tasting.


2023 En Noir de Blanc, Vin de France  12.5°   15.00€

Pinot Noir, with a bucketful of Riesling.  Picked when the grapes are cool, between 7 – 9 a.m.  Direct pressing.  A little colour extraction. A gentle pink, but the colour fades in the bottle to turn more white than pink.  Light fresh dry fruit on the nose and palate.  Nicely rounded but not yet very expressive.  The vineyard is clay and limestone, and north facing.  Alix’s original idea was Pinot Noir with bubbles, but she has settled for a still wine.


Essentially Alix makes three interpretations of Pinot Noir, namely En Noir de Blanc; a wine from the young vines of Pinot Noir and best of all, Pomarèdes, from a vineyard near the cellar, where the sheep were roaming earlier.    En Noir de Blanc comes from another vineyard of young vines, which is also close to the cellar building, where the vines have a less developed root system.    


2023 Pinot Noir – 13.00€

Bottled last week.  Medium colour. Ripe rounded fruit. Quite opulently ripe fruit with supple streak of tannin.  Some sous-bois on the finish.  Grapes from young vines fermented with their stalks make for a certain energy with freshness on the finish.  A supple silky note on the finish with energy from the tannins.  Nicely balanced.


Pomarèdes 2021 - from a vineyard planted by Alix’s mother, Catherine in 1985  - 18.00€

Deep colour. Quite rich red fruit, sous bois.  Both whole bunches and some destalked fruit.  Very elegant fruit, supple, subtle nuances.  More ethereal than the wine from  young vines.  Lovely texture.  Quite rich fruit, with a certain depth and good length. 


Alix explained about the fermentation.  The grapes go into the vat and then there is a remontage a day later to mix them all up and then she leaves them to infuse for two to three weeks, and then presses them.  Pinot Noir is very delicate and very fragile.  You have to know how to do nothing to it.  And simply keep it company.


2021 Les Indigènes – 15.00€

From the walled vineyard above Bédarieux.  Deep colour.  Quite a solid spicy nose.  Rounded fruit.  Rich, quite fleshy, with supple tannins.  All picked together.  There is no Pinot Noir.  As far as Alix knows, the walled vineyard was planted in 1860, 10,000 vines in one hectare and at an altitude of 280 metres. Producing about 3000 bottles.  


We missed out on Arièges as there was none in stock.  Alix makes it in an amphora that is below ground.  The juice spends 12 months on the skins in the closed amphora, after which it is pressed.  It is a true orange wine with a tannic structure, but we will have to wait for the spring…… .


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